So, I hear you have just written the best book ever in the entire universe?
Congratulations, well done you! That’s a fantastic effort just getting to the end of a manuscript, and then edit, rewrite, edit, rewrite and of course, you got a bunch of friends to read it right? And then maybe a beta reader or two to give it a once over?
What’s a beta reader?
A beta reader is someone who can give your writing a semi-professional read, a critique if you like, for grammar, spelling, story consistency and maybe some ideas for improving settings, characters and overall story arches.
How much does that cost?
It shouldn’t cost you anything. A beta reader is someone who is at the same level of writing skill as you, or maybe better, who belongs to your writing community. A paid editor is something your publisher will arrange for you, once you have a contract. Your job is just to get it to the best you can possibly manage with your awesome mere-writer skills. However, if you do feel a need for an editor, try Nadia at Editornia, she is awesome.
Communi-what-now? I’m the kind of writer who lives in a cave and writes with a passion, and I only come out when I am done. I write alone!
Oh, we all write alone, nobody wants to look over your shoulder, but writing communities can be really helpful when it comes to tips and advice and for getting published. If you join your local writing group, in Victoria it is http://writersvictoria.org.au/ Writers Victoria, at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne, they will be able to link you in with weekly emails, and news about writing competitions, workshops, seminars and festivals. Hanging out with other writers, is networking, and it is a critical part of building up your writer presence. You are really missing out on lots of opportunities if you ignore the vast amount of information out there from just this one group not to mention all those chances to hone your awesome writerly skills. Enter the competitions! Some competitions offer prizes such as publication with a well known publishing house, grants of money that can enable you to continue writing, publicity and the ability to add interest to your writers resume.
Writer’s Resume? I thought all I had to do was write the very best book in the world….
Sorry, plenty of ‘very best books in the world’ ended up on slush piles because they did not have a good enough submission letter, or you did not have an interesting resume. Of course, if you have a degree or diploma in writing, teaching, literature or a field related to what you are writing about, that may open some doors for you, but a track record of already published writing will help. There are plenty of magazines out there who are happy to accept well written articles from unknown writers for absolutely no money, and while this is kind of unreasonable in lots of ways, it does get your name out in the literary world, and you can use the pull of that magazine to draw readers to your blog. Some magazines will actually pay you! Google magazines that you like or are pertinent to your area of interest. K-Zone, Lotta Magazine, and Just Kidding are three magazines for children with websites that you can enquire about submitting short stories to.
Blog? I don’t have time to blog…..
Well, my dear fuzzy headed soon-to-be-famous writer, make some time. The world is becoming digital at a very fast rate of knots, and I doubt very much that you could find a writer who does not have a blog, a Twitter feed and a Facebook page… Go on, name a writer, any writer….
I dunno, how about Neil Gaiman?
Neil even has his own online bookstore, and a page on Wikipedia! This man is well represented indeed. Neil Gaiman also includes links to clips of him reading from his own stories on YouTube.
Now a regular, just starting out soon-to-be-famous author who is not Neil Gaiman, can create a blog, full of short stories, interesting news items, links to magazine articles that hopefully they have written themselves and gotten published, and perhaps a bunch of interesting cat pictures. There is nothing to stop you. Blogspot, and WordPress are two well known free blog hosting services and there are many, many more. There are multitudes of ways you can create a web presence for yourself, so that when your manuscript arrives via someone’s email, or lobs onto some unsuspecting publishers desk, before they even open your file, or flip the pages of your epic and amazing work, they will be impressed by you as a writer already. Consider the way anything is sold in the world today; it all comes with some form of advertising. If your Writer’s Resume includes links to a brilliant blog full of clever bits of writing by you, even a quirky picture of your dog wearing sunglasses, (only one, unless you can get your dog to also rock a hat, then exactly two),
and see if you can get some feedback from your blog readers saying how funny, clever, awesome your dog and stories are… and if your smiling, lovely, *marketable* personality shines through…. they may just read your book.
Well, I sent my manuscript off to three publishers and I have not heard back at all!
Okay, that can happen, but first did you do this:
*Go to a bookshop*. (I know this sounds very basic, but before you send off manuscripts to a bunch of unsuspecting publishers, you should know the sort of books they publish. It is no good sending a children’s picture book to Mills & Boon, they just will not want it.)
Duh. I just sent it to all the big ones. You know, Harper Collins, Pan MacMillan and Random House.
Nice names! But first tell me a little about your book. Who did you write it for?
Me. I always write to please myself.
Well, secretly I think we all do, but what is your book about and who is the main protagonist?
It’s a story about a nine year old girl who is interested in saving the local wildlife, and she stands up to all the powers-that-be in her story and becomes a hero.
Is it a picture book? Or a short novel?
It’s illustrated and I would like it to be a picture book.
So the protagonist is nine, so that is Young Adult or Middle Primary, or even for Younger Readers? And it is about wildlife so there is a theme there that could be somewhat educational?
I guess so, yes.
Now if you have illustrated it yourself, did you know that many publishers prefer that you leave it for them to procure an illustrator? This is one of the ways that they can market your book. If they marry your story with an already popular illustrator, they may be able to boost sales, and at the end of the day publishers want to make money.
But I worked really hard on my illustrations; I think they should take my illustrations because they are really good.
Unfortunately, this could be a deal breaker for a publisher. Once you are famous though, I am sure you could negotiate a deal whereby your illustrations actually do make it to the light of day, however, for a first book deal, you may just have to accept that it will be your words only.
So, where should I send it?
Well, because there is an educational theme in your story and the protagonist is primary school aged, you would be very wise to look into an educational publisher. Like Scholastic Books, and picture book publishers, like Walker Books, as they make the most beautiful picture books ever, in my humble opinion. And Hachette Children’s Books and Fremantle Press and Thames & Hudson and Penguin Group Australia… have a look here http://www.australianpicturebooks.com/ this website has a list of beautiful, recently published Australian books for children, *drool*. This website is part of ‘Australian Book Blogger Directory’ – keep an eye out for advertisements and links like this on book websites because if you can link your blog to them you will be drawing readers and publishers alike to notice you. The internet is an awesome tool, and not called the World Wide Web for nothing. Your Twitter and Facebook and Blog (oh my), and links to other websites that hold your published writing will all feed into each other and the more links the more traffic the more publicity you will get, the better known you will be. It’s like magic. Also, clean up your public self. If you want to be a children’s writer, be careful of acting inappropriately on the internet, no more swearing on Twitter, mmmkay! No publisher is going to take you on if you can be Googled and found scandalous, and they do look.
I know this, because I would.
Also, even though you sent your manuscript to all the ‘big names’, keep in mind that many of the smaller names are actually imprints of the bigger names, and you need to know these things in order to have your manuscript land in the most receptive hands. For instance, Black Dog Books are an imprint of Walker Books, and if you feel your book fits in with Black Dog Books selection, you should send it to Walker Books, for the attention of the Black Dog Books editor guy. Of course, it would work way better if you followed the guidelines on each and every website so that your book is within their word count, formatted the way they want it and arrives at the email or the post box of the exact right person! You don’t want your manuscript to crash and burn at any of these small hurdles, because it deserves every chance it can get.
Even though Jackie French is famous for saying that her first manuscript arrived poorly spelled, and covered in jam and flour, and nibbled on by wombats, it is just not a good idea to stick your manuscript in a sparkly envelope , sealed with Barbie Bandaids and unicorn stickers addressed to “The Editor Guy” in bright orange crayon, because, we can’t all be as lucky as Jackie French.
So, when will I hear back? Hello…….?
Well, some publishers will simply never reply, and some will send a rejection letter after about three months wait. But there is plenty to do while you wait. You can write some more, because writing is your passion and writers must write, right?
Next Post: The E in E-Books, stands for the Elephant in the Room, (whose name is Indie and who Self Publishes!)